Aaron Rowand

After early obstacles, Giants positioned to win NL West

It’s been a nice, easy start to the season for the San Francisco Giants.  Lots of fun celebrations; 22 of their first 31 games on the road; significant injuries for their leadoff hitter, No. 5 starter and best offensive player thus far for multiple weeks, along with shorter DL stints for their closer, right fielder and that guy with wrist problems who’ll eventually replace Rich Aurilia and/or Shawn Estes as a Comcast analyst; Buster Posey’s gone hitless in 10 of his last 15 games and Aubrey Huff was completely lost until 5 days ago; Miguel Tejada is treating this season like Shane Mosley treated his Saturday night fight against Manny Pacquiao (make that money; just don’t get hurt that badly).

Through all that, and an impressive start by their clear contender for the National League West crown, the Colorado Rockies, the Giants sit at 17-16, only 2 games behind the team that makes a regular habit of cheating at their mile-high home (I’m talking about Dinger, the regrettable dinosaur mascot who dances around behind home plate while the other team’s pitching in later innings).

One could look at the Giants roster and either celebrate the fact that Aaron Rowand has been their best position player not to recently undergo hand surgery, or shudder at the thought that Rowand is their leadoff hitter and he’s actually the team’s best leadoff option right now. But that’s missing the point. The Giants are in a division that isn’t as good as it was last year, or the year before. San Diego has one of the worst offenses in the last decade. The Dodgers are an embarrassment to professional sports in Los Angeles, and that’s a city which lost two NFL teams and has the Clippers. We’ve seen the Diamondbacks in person, and they are not a very good baseball team. Justin Upton is ridiculously talented, but that rotation..

It’s the Giants versus the Rockies for the NL West crown, and while the Giants have done some frustrating things this season (especially whenever their pitchers are asked to throw to second base), they’ve shown that:

1. They have the depth to withstand injuries.

2. They’re at least good enough to go .500 on the road.

3. Their top four starters, in the words of Denny Green, are who we thought they were.

4. The bullpen is the rock of this team, even though people obsess over the lack of a traditional “long man.” (TWSS)

5. Throughout an early season full of overlong celebrations, Showtime cameras and prospects getting yanked around, the great clubhouse the Giants to a man pointed to as a huge reason for their 2010 success is still alive and well — which has been helped by a fanbase who’s getting a reputation around the league for being one of the loudest and most “into the game” in all of baseball, a group that’s selling out every home game and traveling extremely well so far.

All that’s left is to start racking up some wins at home (their record at Mays Field is currently 6-5), and that will probably have to start on Tuesday against Arizona, since Ryan Vogelsong’s going against Jorge De La Rosa and the Giants have lost the third game of a series when going for a sweep four times already.

Are you accusing me of playing the “reverse jinx” card? Well, I never!

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